natural deodorant

Some of you who have clicked on this article may be thinking, “Hey, deodorant used to be simple. There were a few brands; you picked one. What happened?” Well, over the last decade or so consumers have become more discerning when it comes to deodorant, demanding more than the same, synthetic formulas which have graced our underarms for too long.

Natural deodorants have come into vogue, moving from just a few sparse brands in the aisles of grocery stores and pharmacies — we’re looking at you, Tom’s, we know you’ve been around longer than anyone else — to countless competitors trying to dominate the natural deodorant market. Just what sparked this change? Is there a real difference?

And what exactly was it about deodorant that was problematic? Aside from the plethora of lab-made ingredients which filled those old sticks, it really came down to one particular problem child: aluminum.

What’s the deal with aluminum?

Simple deodorants are a separate matter. However, when it comes to deodorants which also act as antiperspirants, a common option for people who are serious about avoiding underarm odor, it’s a different story. Almost every single antiperspirant contains aluminum, generally in the form of aluminum salts.

These compounds don’t fight odor-causing bacteria like regular deodorants; they actually go and stop the sweat from being produced at its very source, the glands in your armpits. Now, anything that gets rubbed on your skin will be absorbed by the body to some extent. So it follows that some folks might give pause before they go and apply a product with metals that will end up in their bloodstream.

Some folks may be thinking, if over 13 million American households can drink water from private wells safely, surely I can use a chemical deodorant without any problems? Indeed, drinking well water and using deodorants containing aluminum most likely do not present much of a health risk to most people. However, there are particularly vulnerable members of the populace who should be cautious, as we will explain in just a moment.

It is important to note that aluminum as a cosmetic ingredient is not unique to deodorant. As noted by a Penn Medicine article, aluminum-containing compounds are found in many common pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products. Of course, this does not guarantee the products’ safety. Fortunately, studies have not yet found evidence that aluminum in deodorant is harmful to healthy adults.

However, those suffering from poor kidney function — around 30% or less, to be precise — should absolutely stay away from antiperspirants and switch to natural deodorant. This is because any aluminum that infiltrates the bloodstream must be filtered out by the kidneys. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, aluminum can accumulate in the body and start to cause problems.

The appeal of natural deodorants

More than 21 million houses in the U.S. use septic systems to filter their toilet waste. However, that doesn’t mean we are okay walking around smelling like a septic system. That’s why those who are considering switching to a natural deodorant want to be absolutely certain that it works.

A key reason natural deodorants are gaining traction is that they are becoming increasingly effective. A blog post from the Zoe Report credits this efficacy to a few key ingredients: baking soda, starches, or clays can help absorb sweat and keep the pits odorless. Some oils, such as coconut oil, naturally possess antimicrobial properties which make them a perfect natural deodorant ingredient.

Plus, natural deodorants allow you to avoid ingredients that, while not proven to be harmful, are somewhat suspect. The FDA reports that triclosan, a common ingredient in synthetic deodorant, may be potentially harmful. While no studies have yet been conducted on humans, some short term studies on animals found that high doses of the compound were accompanied by decreases in certain thyroid hormones.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, whether you use natural deodorant or a chemical antiperspirant comes down to personal preference and values. Temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit may be appropriate for load cell and torque sensor units, but for humans, as soon as it gets up above 75 degrees we start to get sticky and smelly. If you value smelling good no matter what, you may want to stick with an antiperspirant. However, if you tend to prioritize using ingredients you can pronounce and which are certain not to pose any potential health risks, natural deodorant is for you.